On re-test, this animal gave a positive reading after an Inconclusive result to a routine Tb test. Shock, horror from the Hindu community, who immediately walled him up in straw lined 'temple' and protested. Loudly. His 'religion' (can a bull(ock) have a religion?) means that he is regarded as 'sacred', and cannot be killed. We note that it did not prevent the removal of certain parts of his anatomy, to prevent him 'giving life' - parts which will be presumably reunited with the rest of him on his demise? - but let that pass.
Yesterday, Shambo's website posted the following message to his many supporters;
The National Assembly of Wales has deferred its original intention to slaughter Shambo, the sacred bull at the Skanda Vale Temple.
The authorities were going to move to slaughter next week but they have since delayed this action. They have said that they are still carefully considering what they concede to be a sensitive and unusual case. The Temple hopes that this consideration will lead to a change of policy and change of practice.
Responding to the decision by the Assembly, Swami Suryananda of the Skanda Vale Temple, said: “We are encouraged by the response of the authorities to defer their decision on the future of Shambo. To consider killing as a solution is not an option and we would hope the threat of slaughter could be removed so that we can establish constructive dialogue with the Assembly to find a practical solution that upholds the highest values of the Hindu faith but also meets the health and safety requirements.
Ishwer Tailor, President of the Hindu Forum of Britain added, "The campaign to save Shambo has received considerable support from people of different faiths in the UK and, around the world. It is important that we continue to request the Welsh Assembly to remove the slaughter notice that is hanging over Shambo. In the meantime the temple we will continue to take the necessary bio-security measures to protect animals and humans from harm.”
CB Patel, Chair of the Patrons Council of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: “There is still a lot of concern among the community, but the Assembly’s decision to respond sensitively to this unusual case is heartening. We would suggest other diagnostic tests are conducted to ascertain if infection is actually present and, if so, identify the area infected and treat accordingly with medication.”
President of the National Council of Hindu Temples, Sudarshan Bhatia, commented: "The deferral of the decision to slaughter Shambo could mean that the Welsh Assembly is considering various options. We hope that the sensitiveness of the issue and the needs of the different communities can be carefully considered."
Other UK Hindu organisations that have given their support to Skanda Vales’ campaign include the Hindu Council of Birmingham, Hindu Council of Brent, Hindu Council of Harrow, Hindu Council of the North, Leicester Festival Hindu Council, Hindu Council UK and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK.
Much as we sympathise with the people who run the Hindu community in Wales, we feel that the 'temporary reprieve' of this animal opens an even larger can of worms for the as yet unformed, Welsh Assembly. The fact that no one will take reponsibility for the consequences of a positive Tb test on Shambo, is fluff. Either we (as in the UK including its devolved parts) have a screening policy for Tb which complies with international directives and in which we believe - or we do not. No 'decision' needs to be made, or at least if the reactor was an Anglo Saxon Welsh black steer of Methodist persuasion, it would not. Last year, Defra figures showed that Wales slaughtered almost 6000 cattle in response to a positive Tb test; we suspect most were 'sacred' and induced 'sensitive and unusual' emotions in their shell shocked owners.
If the owners of Shambo are able to isolate him and 'screen' for Tb using other methods than those available to the rest of us, then should the same procedure be made available (to those who request it) in the rest of Wales - or the wider UK for that matter?
We suspect that placing this one in the 'too difficult' file, may in the longer term cost the Welsh Assembly dearly.